Employment discrimination claims under Massachusetts law, pursuant to the Fair Employment Practices Act, have a better chance of making it to trial thanks to the clarification issued in Bulwer v. Mt Auburn. There, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court evaluated the summary judgment standard under Rule 56 and reiterated, as it first made clear in Blare v. Husky, that Massachusetts is a pretext-only jurisdiction when it comes to proving employment discrimination. In particular, the SJC reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the case at summary judgment, thus allowing the employee’s claims for race and national origin discrimination to proceed to trial and be heard by a jury.
In doing so, the SJC refused to adopt the employer’s articulation of the plaintiff’s burden at summary judgment standard; namely, that an employee must present evidence that the employer’s reason for termination constituted a pretext for discrimination. Rather, consistent with long-standing precedent, the Court reminded litigants that a plaintiff bringing an employment discrimination claim “need only present evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer that ‘the respondent’s facially proper reasons given for its action against him were not the real reasons for that action'” to survive summary judgment and advance to trial.